This was an article I wrote for my final exam in University on Friday, 6th June 2014
Last week, a story emerged about a new Instagram account which shows bloggers posting images of themselves with delicious sugary treats. It hit headlines all over America, with people calling it hilarious and genius. Perfectly innocent you think? Well if you’re told that the name of the account is @YouDidNotEatThat and that the anonymous creator set it up because they wanted to reveal that these bloggers are only posing (and not eating) with the pretty pretzels for a few extra double taps, would you still think the same?
I hope not, because this is just another sad case of skinny shaming.
The anonymous creator of the account told The Cut magazine that they were fed up of seeing bloggers pose with food and then not eat it, because according to them, “If you’re a size zero, and you’re frolicking in a tiny bikini on the beach, you probably did not eat the doughnuts that you posed with the sunglasses.”
Firstly, why on earth the creator feels like it’s perfectly normal to call people out on what they eat is beyond me and secondly, can “skinny” people not eat burgers and doughnuts then?
Sadly, we live in a very contradicting and judgmental society. We question those who are overweight for eating too much by ridiculing them with “worst beach bodies” images, we judge those who we think don’t eat enough with “skin and bones” comments, and now it seems we are questioning those who say they enjoy cookies, but still remain slim.
One of the major dangers with this new account and skinny shaming in general is that although we know that judging an overweight person on their size is inherently wrong, we seem to think it’s perfectly fine to question a thin person and call a women out for enjoying a treat. We would never dream of asking a larger friend how they manage to stay so big but the idea that we could be offending someone by asking them how they keep off the pounds hasn’t quite dropped yet.
Women like Rachel Ann Evans, from South Wales, are getting fed up. Rachel, 27, has been slim all her life but says she’s annoyed at constantly having to defend her natural frame. “Skinny bashing is just as offensive and non PC as saying someone is fat or needs to skip a meal,” she says. “People seem to think it is ok to comment on my weight as I am lean, but what if I did the same to an overweight person. I would be called all the names under the sun.”
Celebs are also feeling the full force of the constant body shaming. Just look at Ellie Goulding, who a few weeks ago received backlash after posting an image of her toned stomach on Instagram. Instagrammers called the singer both fat and skinny on the same picture and Ellie took to Twitter to share her views, “Quite baffling being described as underweight and overweight simultaneously.”
Rachel says that social media sites are at the centre of the shaming, “It seems to be a craze or fad on social media sites to say that “only real women have curves”. I don’t recall being imaginary or not real and it is extremely hurtful.”
The fad that she’s talking about is this new wave of images on Twitter and Instagram which mock thinner frames with comments like “Who wants to be with a toothpick?” and “Bones are for dogs”. She’s right when she says if the same was said about larger girls, there’d be outrage yet these images and gifs are apparently fine.
“It makes me angry that in today’s society women cannot be accepted for being a certain shape or size, we should all try to empower each other as women not make anybody feel embarrassed or ashamed of what they look like.” She says.
What it comes down to is our overall perception of body image and worryingly, according to research done by the YMCA, 1 in 4 of us feel depressed about our body shape. We all have hang ups, we all have parts of our body that we wish would be bigger or smaller, but what we’re now doing is focusing so much on showing that being curvy is sexy, that we’re now degrading naturally thin girls. And that’s wrong.
Comments on someone’s body image can have horrid affects. Just like calling someone fat can cause an eating disorder, constantly picking out how thin someone is can also have negative effects on how they perceive their own bodies.
Mary George from the anorexia and bulimia charity, Beat, says, “It seems that non-one’s safe nowadays from public vilification and intrusion into their privacy. It’s justifiably not acceptable to comment on race, religion or sexuality so why do we continue to see individuals harassed around their body image.”
So please can we all just stop with the body shaming – both fat and thin. As Rachel says, “Nobody wants to hear negative comments or comparisons to other body types. We are what we are, regardless of shape or size.”